The Israel Trip
While many folks from the Geneva community were home visiting family and friends during Christmas break, a group of students, faculty and friends of the college welcomed 2012 while touring the very places in Israel where Jesus Christ walked, taught and lived.
This was the third college-sponsored trip to Israel, which was established in 2007 and is conducted every other year. The experience is the culminating activity of the Archaeology and Geography of Israel class, in which participants meet throughout the fall semester to learn about the geography of Israel, as well as study the art and science of archaeology. In addition to students enrolled in the class, all current students, alumni and friends of Geneva are also invited to be a part of this amazing journey to the Holy Land.
Three professors from Geneva′s Bible Department led the most recent trip, which took place from December 27, 2011 to January 7, 2012: Dr. Scott Shidemantle, Dr. Dean Smith and Dr. Jonathan Watt. A record number of 43 people from the Geneva community accompanied them.
And the group surpassed another mark, too. "We âbroke the record′ by visiting 15 different national parks in Israel," exclaimed Dr. Shidemantle. "We visited sites like Qumran, the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi and Jerusalem."
Those on the trip also had the opportunity to see a number of museums, including the Jewish people′s living memorial to the Holocaust Yad Vashem, the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem and the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Experiential learning is a vital component of a Geneva education. In addition to visiting the geographical and historical sites studied in class, the trip to Israel also includes numerous activities connecting classroom material about archeology to real-world practice. As Dr. Shidemantle explained, "This year, we had the opportunity to be archaeologists for a day as we sifted debris at the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation. We also had the privilege of spending a full day with one of Israel′s leading archaeologists, Dr. Gabby Barkay, as he led us on a tour of the Temple Mount and the City of David."
Dr. Barkay directs the Temple Mount sifting project, which has been operating since 2004. This is the first archaeological project to ever examine artifacts from the Temple Mount, making every find unique and important.
Through the Israel Trip, a lasting educational and spiritual impact is made on participants as they connect the words of Scripture to these tangible experiences. Dr. Shidemantle noted, "Travelers have told me more than once, âI′ll never read the Bible the same way again.′"